Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Just Where She Needs to Be ~ Katherine Sasser and Hurley House

I'd like to tell you about my friend Katherine. She's the wife of an adventurer, she's the capable mom of four, she's a friend to many. But mostly, she a daughter of the King. A daughter who's not afraid to take risks and care for others.

I met Katherine twenty years ago when she was a TCU student. Corbin and I were helping start a college class at our church, and Katherine showed up every Sunday. She came to all the events, seemed to know more adults in the church than we did, and displayed leadership in a natural, effortless manner. She wasn't up front or behind the scenes ~ she was simply wherever she needed to be.

I recall stopping by the apartment she shared with her roommates thinking, "This belongs to college juniors?!" It was darling. Actually, the apartment was not darling. But the space was darling. Katherine put her frugal design skills to work and crafted a cozy, warm home. She sewed curtains and pillows and a tablecloth or two, and the simple space oozed her creativity and handiwork. As a single, twenty-year-old college student, Katherine's priorities of creating an inviting home lined up less with her peers and more with my own efforts as a newlywed.

But Katherine had more in her than Mary Engelbreit curtains.
She's also a singer/songwriter with a heart-melting voice. Towards the end of her time at TCU, with the encouragement of some friends and worship leaders within our church, Katherine took a risk and made a CD of her songs: "Katherine Barnes ~ With my Song." The result was her insightful heart spilled out onto a little shiny disc. Corbin and I listened to that CD until it wouldn't play anymore. And then we bought another. I love every song. And when I hear those songs now, it's like opening an old perfume bottle. Her music has been a gift to me and to many.
Katherine, with Ryan and Kevin, leading worship at a college event
Katherine's biggest fan club ~ and when I say we made these shirts, we made these shirts
CD-shrink-wrap party in our kitchen ~ love this of Corbin next to Katherine (and Jen!) with hairdryer in hand

Big night ~ Katherine's "With my Song" concert at Christ Chapel
Katherine and the band ~ Ryan M, David W and the Kietas all still serving within CCBC
But Katherine had more in her than music.
Several years ago she framed her longing for hosting and creating an inviting space with reality. She took a risk and opened Hurley House out of her home. She put her little single-oven kitchen to work and crafted meals and desserts and hosted hospitality classes. All the while keeping up with normal life and the duties of a bustling young family. She's not afraid of hard work.

What strikes me most about Katherine is her willingness to take risks. Hurley House is a perfect example because it was her heart's cry, but it didn't necessarily make sense. Four little kiddos, a husband whose work includes international travel, a residential kitchen tucked back into a neighborhood... but she took her desire and ideas and simply made it happen. She opened that kitchen and transformed her living room into an weekly open house where friends and strangers could stop by and grab a treat, take home a meal, or pick up a gorgeous birthday cake. Her open house offered a spot to stop and breathe and enjoy a little homemade goodness.
This year Katherine stretched that risk a little further, opening a storefront here in Fort Worth. And it is darling. Everything about Hurley House is just plain wonderful. Her logo and signage, Saturday morning cinnamon rolls, take-away meals, colorful sparkle cookies, Tuesday homework happy hour with rice crispy treats ~ Hurley House offers an unrushed spot to pause from the race of a full day. 

At the Hurley House sneak preview / grand opening this past July
Tim gave thanks for this dream unveiled, aside to bragging on Katherine
I admire Katherine.
I've seen her make something of nothing.
I've seen her quietly submit to a crazy (can I say, deranged) wedding planner.
I've seen her stand firm in confusion and humility when wrongly accused by loved ones.
I've seen her stand by friends when their worlds fell apart. 
I've seen her love her family well while authentically communicating that motherhood can be just plain hard. 
I've seen one of our pastor's wives dissolve in tears because the message in one of Katherine's songs so perfectly matched the crushing blow to their family. Words that offered divine comfort when Katherine didn't even know of the circumstance. "How did you know? How did you know what we're going through?" she asked Katherine, and Katherine simply shook her head that she didn't, but God did.
I've seen her fix an old home to look like a magazine cover. And then a brand-new home to look like the next month's cover. And then a really cool old home (the original Hurley House) that was already awesome turned into something even more inviting with her touch. And then a lovely, established home that she again put her touches on to create a haven.
I've seen her recently invited as a solo artist back to our church, playing the grand piano and singing one of her songs to cap off the sermon because it just so perfectly fit, and our pastor knew it would communicate more than spoken words.
I've seen her delight in caring for others, her satisfaction of loving her husband and children well.

Sasser crew. Two of my worlds happily collided when Katherine married Tim, a Baylor friend of mine and Corbin's.
Her food offerings may be, but Katherine is not all sugar and sweet. She's more than that ~ gutsy and a hard worker, a risk taker, and brave enough to infuse what she loves into her normal, everyday life.

She won't stand in the limelight. And she won't lurk in the background either. She'll just show up when and where she's needed. And right now, in addition to caring for her family, that's in a darling little eatery right off of Bryant Irvin called Hurley House. She'd love to see you over sparkle cookie and hot cup of coffee.